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october 2008 Highlights at a Glance


AWC Receives Grant For Math Facilities

 Press Conference held for math grant

Arizona Western College is proud to announce they are the recipient of a grant for over $3.5 million dollars. Following a comprehensive review of the Math program, faculty and staff concluded AWC should revise the math curriculum and teaching/tutoring strategies, strengthen student advising, replace outdated facilities/technologies, and enhance articulation agreements with 4-year universities in order for students to succeed in the all-important developmental Math courses. The CCRAA grant will allow AWC students to have access to modern technologies, strong advisement, up-to-date instructional opportunities and streamlined articulation/transfer models with Northern Arizona University, University of Arizona and Arizona State University.

This is a two year grant, October 1, 2008-September 30, 2010. The amounts range from $1,803,750 the first year and $1,776,547 second year for a total award of $3,580,297.00.

The current AWC Science Building will be gutted and the shell will remain standing while being prepared to build new classrooms and other facilities within.

“I learned a lot in the grant-writing process and was impressed with the contributions of the committee members. I am elated that our proposal was accepted and look forward to working with the new faculty and staff to redesign our program to better meet the needs of our students,” Lauryn Geritz, Professor of Mathematics.

The AWC Grant Committee members included Dan Russow, Lauryn Geritz, Cynthia Johnson, Dr. Joann Linville, Dan Hann, Bryan Doak, Linda Elliott-Nelson, Leslie McClellon, Jana Moore, Daniel Barajas, Don Riney, Betty Lopez; Co-Chairs: Mary Schaal and Paul Neuman.

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Arizona Educators Hold Meeting at CDLL

State educators gather at the new CDLL

On Friday, October 17th a large assembly of educational professionals from around the state of Arizona met at Arizona Western College’s newly opened Child Development Learning Lab. The Articulation Task Force discussed curriculum and programs for early childhood education across the state of Arizona.

Representatives from Arizona community colleges and universities were in attendance,  including Rio Salado, Northland Pioneer, Cochise, Paradise Valley, Scottsdale, Pima, Coconino, Yavapai, Central, Eastern, and Mohave Community College, U of A, ASU East, West and Main and NAU main and Yuma Campus representatives were also present.

“It is an honor to host the annual articulation taskforce meeting here in Yuma. It is giving us an opportunity to showcase our new child development laboratory to our fellow early childhood educators in the state,” Judy Watkinson, Professor of Early Childhood Education. “Together in Arizona we are educating the teachers and caregivers of children birth through eight. Our aim is to demonstrate the use of developmentally appropriate practice in the caring and teaching our young children.”

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Local Group Donates to Construction Trades


Construction Trades Receives Funds

Arizona Western College’s Construction Trades Program received a wonderful gift during Construction Trades Week. The Yuma Southwest Contractors Association (YSWCA) presented monies to the AWC Foundation for support of the AWC Construction Trades Program.

On Thursday, October 16th, Dianne Borgard, with the Yuma Southwest Contractors Association (YSWCA), presented the Foundation a check for $1000. Ruth Whisler, Director of the AWC Foundation, and Dave Sission, Professor of Electrical Wiring, were both on hand at the Foundation office to accept the monies.

Sisson said the monies will be used to support the existing Construction Trades Program and the students, faculty and facilities.

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AWC Goes Batty

Representative From Arizona Fish & Game

On October 7th AWC science students along with Arizona Game and Fish and the United States Department of Agriculture caught bats! The AWC science students trapped bats on the main campus. The students then collected samples to assist with their science studies.

The project entailed setting up nets on the North East side of the science building in order to collect the bats. A trained biologist then gathered the necessary samples for student investigation. This assignment is an activity within the science curriculum to assist the students, AZ Game & Fish and USDA in work-related fields.

Cecilia Vigil, AWC Professor of Biology; “One of the strengths of the AWC science programs is that its students have many opportunities to gather hands-on experience while working and networking with scientists in their field of expertise. In addition, while others must go out into the field to learn about bats, our bat-friendly campus has several historical roosts that are continually studied.”

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World Heritage Week

In honor of World Heritage Week Arizona Western

Renee Biby chats with children in the CDLL as part of a World To You author visit

College brought the World to You.

In a week long celebration, open to the public, AWC hosted a variety of events to encompass the World. AWC students, faculty and staff explored the World the week of October 13th to October 16th.

Events included photographers, artists, films and book readings.  The annual job fair was held on Wednesday of the week giving both students and the public the chance to learn more about a variety of careers.

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Alcohol Awareness Day

 Arizona DPS demonstrates alcohol awareness

AWC’s Health Services Department hosted a National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week Fair on Wednesday, October 22nd on the AWC Main Campus.

The event was open to the public and had many hands-on activities to help the campus and surrounding communities to raise awareness of the use and the abuse of alcohol and illegal drugs. Various local and regional law enforcement personnel were on campus to demonstrate the results and the affects of alcohol and illegal drugs.

Joining AWC Health Services was Arizona Department of Public Safety with “Rollover Randy”…an interactive machine with a ‘dummy’ to demonstrate a vehicle accident involving a rollover. Yuma Police Department was on campus demonstrating proper use of seatbelts. Yuma County Sheriff’s Office was on site discussing drinking and boating safety. The Arizona Department of Corrections brought their K-9 Unit to demonstrate the use of the dogs to detect drugs and other narcotics. AWC’s Health Services had their “Shop of Horrors” open to the public to demonstrate the dangers of meth and drinking and driving.

“Arizona Western College will join more than 1,000 colleges and universities in the United States who recognize the importance of campus prevention efforts addressing alcohol and drug abuse and chemically-impaired driving prevention. Our 2008 National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Campaign “U Decide” contains the message of student empowerment to make safe choices, to take care of friends, to keep safe by not drinking to excess, to secure a safe ride, to avoid driving after drinking, and to never ride with a driver who has been drinking,” Mary Parston, AWC Coordinator of Health Services. “Inviting local organizations to participate in this event helps improve alliances between the AWC campus and the community to work cooperatively in resolving issues involving alcohol or drugs.”

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Automotive Receives Recertification

Automotive Department receives recertification

The automotive training program at AWC has received recertification by NATEF and the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). AWC’s automotive program has been recertified in the following areas: Brakes, Electronic Systems, Engine Performance, and Suspension & Steering.

To achieve this coveted recognition, the school’s automotive training program underwent rigorous evaluation by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF). Nationally accepted standards of excellence in areas such as instruction, facilities, and equipment were used.

“This is great news for automotive-minded young people and their parents,” said Donald Seyfer, NATEF Chair. “Because this program increases cooperation between local education and industry leaders, it gives added assurance that AWC’s graduates will be employable entry-level technicians. As a result of the quality education provided by AWC, the motoring public will benefit since better repair technicians will joining the work force.” Upon completion of the evaluation, NATEF recommended that AWC be certified by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). ASE is a national non-profit organization which tests and certifies repair technicians, in addition to certifying automotive training programs.

Larry Stanley, Professor of Automotive added, “During the past few months, we have worked closely with NATEF to make certain that our program would meet strict industry standards, and now we are delighted to be recertified and be a part of the ASE certified training programs. Students will be assured of a quality education, and shop owners will be assured of getting quality job applicants.”

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Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Kathryn Brooks, Violence Prevention Program Specialist at the Domestic Violence booth

The AWC/NAU-Yuma Violence Prevention Program recognized October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. AWC and NAU-Yuma partnered with local and community agencies to raise awareness of domestic violence locally, regionally and nationally.

Events were scheduled throughout the month of October on and off campus. The Domestic Violence Awreness Fair was held on Oct 9th. There were many booths from Yuma County agencies.

The Violence Prevention Program sponsored a special movie night available to all students in the Ocotillo Room.

The Program was also at all of the AWC home athletic events promoting Domestic Violence Awareness.  Join their efforts at the November 15th  Matador football game at
Veteran’s Memorial Stadium, 7pm as they continue to promote “Breaking the Silence” throughout the year.

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Garate Visit

Martin Garate visits with AWC students

Arizona Western College is honored to announce the visit of Martin Garate, President, Universidad Bolivariana. Garate decided to investigate AWC and NAU after learning about the strong AWC/NAU partnership, our world-class faculty, and innovative programs to develop conversational English. Garate visited Rotary, the AWC/NAU-Yuma campus as well as NAU-Flagstaff to learn more about opportunities for his students as well as share the possibility of study abroad in Chile with our students.

Chile is ranked 19th, ahead of Spain, Portugal, and Italy, in the Best Country for Business 2008 List by Forbes Magazine (Forbes, 2008). Yuma is the gateway to Latin America, but this time around Latin America is coming to Yuma.

"I understand that President Garate is a huge fan of American football so we are hosting him at our homecoming game" said Dr. Schoening

Garate spoke to the Noon Discovery Presentation on the AWC Main Campus on Wednesday, October 28th. Garate’s topic of discussion will be “Life Under Pinochet.”

AWC’s Honors and Phi Theta Kappa, and the International Student Program hosted Garate during his visit to Arizona. Dr. Garate spent time with Dr. Don Schoening, Arizona Western College President, and shared educational concepts and challenges they face in two different cultures. His self-funded visit costs the Arizona taxpayer zero dollars.

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Death Is A Show

AWCTheatre performs

AWCTheatre proudly presented an AWCTheatre Student Production of "Death Is A Show" written and directed by Mitchell Punpayuk, AWCTheatre student. The production opened Friday, October 10th and ran through Sunday, October 19th in the AWC Theater.

The plot of “Death Is A Show” revolves around police detective Jim Jacobs, originally from Boston but now residing in the New York City area, as he tries to solve the murder of actor/theater owner Henry Marcus, who has made many enemies in the business. Through his investigation he discovers that “theatre folk” are extravagant, secretive, manipulative, and flat out “bonkers”. Though everyone involved with the production has motive to kill the deceased most of the evidence points to one person, Redd Herring, and Detective Jacobs is having a hard time separating work from pleasure, but if he doesn’t keep his mind on the case his next bed will be a slab in the morgue.

Mitchell Punpayuk, Director and Writer of “Death Is A Show,” talks about his experiences at AWC by saying that “Two years ago I moved back home to Yuma hoping to get more experience in my real passion in life writing. When I got back I saw old friends who in turn introduced me to new friends, and that’s when I met Chip Straley, Professor of Theatre at AWC, and subsequently learned not to call him “Sir”. He asked what I wanted to do in life, what I wanted to get out of his theatre program and how did I feel about doing grunt work? And with that ten minute conversation I listened as a grown man dressed in a Renaissance period outfit (not knowing the two years to follow I would be doing the exact same thing standing right next to him but making a fool of myself) told me he would like to pay for me to finish my education and that I might be an asset to his program (man did I fool him or what, an asset, ha)? So I did start off doing grunt work; fetching things, building and tearing down sets, finding props, and selling concessions, but then I got to be a stage manager, sounds important right, well I had no idea what I was in for. That first show was terrifying; someone had actually put their creation in my hands, now I had been part of the workforce before, I knew how to handle responsibility but this was something else altogether. In the end the show went great and I went on to other shows, sometimes as stage manager, others as assistant director, and eventually as an actor, and now we’re talking about a whole new kind of fear. Acting on stage gave me a new perspective for my writing and a better understanding of the stage when it came time for me to direct this show. All in all I’ve had a great time here these past two years and I hope you’ll enjoy the show with all things I’ve integrated into the play from my experiences.”

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Walton Honored Twice in Once Month

Joel Walton

Arizona Western College is proud to announce that for the second time in just three weeks, AWC Football player Joel Walton has been named as the Western States Football League Defensive Player of the Week for the week ending October 12th. The announcement comes just three days after Walton helped lead the Matadors to their first road victory of the season, a 35-28 victory over the Mesa Thunderbirds at John D. Riggs Stadium on the campus of Mesa Community College.

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PR & Marketing Receives Awards

Slide promoted Jazz Fest at the Harkins Theater won gold

AWC took home 11 awards for its 2007-2008 marketing efforts at the Region Six National Council of Marketing and Public Relations (NCMPR) annual conference that took place at the end of September in Sedona. NCMPR is a national professional organization and is affiliated with the American Association of Community Colleges. AWC is a member of Region Six, which includes all colleges in Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Utah, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Palau, Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Territory of Guam.

Several of the marketing campaigns and products were recognized. The AWC Student Handbook won a Gold Medallion Award. A Gold Medallion was awarded to AWC for creation of novelty items for the JazzFest. A brochure created for Change Someone’s Future won a Silver Medallion Award. Gold and Silver Medallions were awarded for PSA’s and Radio Advertisement. Gold and Silver Medallions were also awarded for several successful media coverage campaigns. AWC’s PR & Marketing also won Gold and Silver Medallions for radio advertising spots. A poster also created for Change Someone’s Future campaign won a Silver Medallion. A billboard designed for the AWC Matadors Athletics won a Silver Medallion.

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Classified Corner

Michelle Valenzuela

Welcome to the Classified Employees Corner. This month we will continue to introduce you to the Classified Employee Association elected officers.

Secretary of the CEA is Michelle Valenzuela. Michelle is the Assistant to the Foundation Director and Board. She has been with AWC for over two years. She is about to celebrate her third year here. Before working at AWC Michelle lived in Parker, Arizona, and worked for Parker Unified School District as Executive Secretary to the Superintendent.

Michelle's favorite memory of working at AWC is meeting so many wonderful new people, as well as beginning to study college courses again this past year.

When asked why she joined the CEA, Michelle comments:  "I feel the CEA is helpful to the classified campus community in particular. We are here to serve as liaisons for the classified employees, assist with professional development opportunities, and help maintain excellent working conditions."

Join the CEA as they continue to introduce their officers to the AWC community in next month's Highlights.

If you are a classified employee and would like more information on the Classified Empoyee Association email Pete Cassidy at

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